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His Life and Works

[Philosophies Ancient and Modern]

Anthony M. Ludovici

Preface by Dr. Oscar Levy

Constable & Company Ltd

- p. v -

The commission for a book on Nietzsche, to form the latest addition to a series of famous philosophers, is most certainly a sign that the age of adversity, through which the earlier Nietzscheans had to struggle, has at last come to an end. For ten consecutive years they had had no reply whatever to their propaganda, and their publications, loud as some of them were, proved as ineffective as cannon shots fired into the eternity of interplanetary space. Finally, however, when the echo was at last heard, it gave back nothing like the original sound: it was an echo of groans and moans, an echo of roaring disapproval and hissing mockery. Yet the years rolled on and on — and so did the printing-presses — hissing and roaring as much as ever — but at last, their thunders grew tamer and more subdued — the tempest of their fury seemed to die away in the distance — occasionally a slight mutter was still to be heard,

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but no more flashes and hisses — and suddenly a streak of blue was observed over the horizon, followed by a ray and smile of sunlight — and a soft zephyr of subdued and tentative compliments — and when our Nietzsche edition had begun to appear in its stately volumes we were enabled to receive from our former enemies on both sides of the Atlantic "respectful congratulations."
        And now all my brave friends are radiant with joy and optimism. Like the wanderer in the fairy tale, while the storm of disgust and loud reproach was raging, they wrapped themselves all the more closely in their cloaks, and no impudent wind could tear a shred of garments from them, but now that the sun of approval has set in, they would fain get out of their armour and enjoy the fine weather as a reward for past perils. Has not the spring come at last? Are not the gay flowers at our feet meant to welcome the victorious warriors? . . . Are not the ladies — ladies that from time immemorial have loved the warrior (especially when he is successful) — smiling at us more gloriously even than the sun? . . . Sun, ladies, flowers, smiles — was there ever a nicer combination? . . .
        But, alas! there is an unimaginative creature

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among the guests, an earnest face among the cheerful, a disbeliever among the faithful, a dark countenance amid the bright assembly; — a being who, in glaring contrast to the sun, the smiles, and the gaily-coloured dresses and sunshades, is keeping a tight hold upon a dark umbrella — for he has an uncontrollable mistrust of English weather!
        And I may claim that I not only know the meteorological conditions of England, but also those of the whole of modern Europe. I know them so well that I have the greatest doubts whether Nietzsche's influence will be strong enough to withstand the terrible hurricane of democracy which in our age is sweeping everything before it, and leaving a level plain in its rear. Nietzsche may have been ever so right, but Truth and Righteousness do not always prevail in this world of ours, indeed, they don't: the bible itself, that otherwise optimistic book, lets this grand secret out once and only once — in the story of Job. The "happy ending" in that book will deceive no realistic observer: it was added to the story, as it is added to modern plays and novels, for the edification and comfort of the audience: the true story of Job was without it, as was the true story of many

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a brave man, as was the true story of that great pope, who on his deathbed came out with the confession: "Dilexi justitiam et odi iniquitatem, propterea morior in exsilio," 1 a confession which went in the very teeth of his own virtue-rewarding creed with its happy-go-lucky trust in the moral order of the universe.
        Nietzsche may have been right, therefore he may be unsuccessful. I myself regard Nietzsche's views on art, religion, psychology, morality, as extremely sound; I think they are proved both by history and by common experience; I even suspect that they could be confirmed by science, if only science would give up looking at the world through the coloured spectacles of democratic prejudice . . . but then, it is so difficult to give up this democratic prejudice; for it is by no means simply a political opinion. Democracy, as a political creed, need terrify no one; for political creeds succeed each other like waves of the sea, whose thunder is loud and whose end is froth; but the driving power behind democracy is not a political one, it is religious — it is Christianity. A mighty religion still, a religion which has governed the world for two thousand years,

        1 "I have loved justice and I have hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

- p. ix -
which has influenced all philosophies, all literatures, all laws, all customs up to our own day, till it has finally filtered into our hearts, our blood, our system, and become part and parcel of ourselves without our being aware of it. At the present moment we are all instinctive Christians. Even if this Christian religion has been severely wounded by Nietzsche's criticism — and I believe this to be the case — I beg to suggest that a wounded lion may still have more strength than all the fussy, political, rationalistic, agnostic, nonconformist, Nietzschean and super-Nietzschean mice put together.
        It was all the braver, therefore, on Nietzsche's part to assail such a mighty enemy, and to attack him exactly on the spot where attack was most needed, if victory were to be won. Nietzsche clearly recognised that the canons of criticism had until now only been directed against the outer works of that stalwart fortress — at dogmatic, at supernatural, at ecclesiastical Christianity, and that no one had yet dared to aim right at the very heart of the creed — its morality, which, while the shamfighters were at work outside, was being enormously strengthened and consolidated from within. This morality, however, Nietzsche recognised as intimately con-

- p. x -
nected with modern democracy — and behind the rosebush of democracy with its flowery speeches and its fraternity- and liberty-blossoms, Nietzsche clearly saw the dragon of anarchy and dissolution lurking. It was the mortal fear of annihilation and ruin which gave Nietzsche the daring to fulminate against our religion with such imperishable Dithyrambics. He was the first to mean the phrase, "écrasez l'infâme!" which in Voltaire's mouth was only an epigrammatic exclamation. For Nietzsche's great forerunner on the Continent, Wolfgang Goethe, who was also just as well aware how it would all end, was much too prudent a man to lay his innermost heart bare to his enemies, he — the grand old hypocrite of Weimar — gauged the power of the contrary current correctly, and wisely left the open combat against Christianity and democracy to his great colleague — to that man of tragic wit, to Heinrich Heine.
        And there were others on the Continent — very few to be sure, and no politician or man of science or woman among them — others who saw the drift of modern ideas: all of them poets. For poets are prophets: their sensitive organisation feels the fall of the glass first, while their pluck and their pride, their duty and their desire to face the storm drive them into the very thick of it.

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The German poet Hebbel, the French novelist Stendhal, were amongst them. A new Matthew Arnold — the object of my wish for this country — would perhaps like to include another poet, the Frenchman Alfred de Vigny, in whose journal are to be found those awe-inspiring words against democracy: "Alas! it is thou, Democracy, that art the desert! it is thou who hast shrouded and bleached everything beneath thy monticles of sand! Thy tedious flatness has covered everything and levelled all! For ever and ever the valley and the hill supplant each other; and only from time to time a man of courage is seen: he rises like a sand-whirl, makes his ten paces towards the sun, and then falls like powder to the ground. And then nothing more is seen save the eternal plain of endless sand."
        Goethe and Hebbel, Stendhal and Heinrich Heine, Alfred de Vigny and Friedrich Nietzsche, all made their ten steps towards the sun and are now sleeping peacefully beneath the dry sands of Christian democracy. Their works are read, to be sure; but alas! how few understand their meaning! I see this and I shudder. And I remember another moment in my life — a moment of perturbation too — a moment in which an idea overcame me, which has been haunting me ever

- p. xii -
since. I was on a visit to Mrs. Förster-Nietzsche, in her villa high up amongst the hills of Weimar, waiting in the drawing-room for my hostess to enter. It was the first time that I had stood upon the holy ground where Friedrich Nietzsche gave up his heroic soul, and I was naturally impressed; my eyes wandered reverently around the scene, and I suddenly noticed some handwriting on the wall. The handwriting consisted of a powerful letter N which the ingenious builder had engraved profusely upon the oak panels of the room. The N, of course, reminded me of another big N, connected with another big name, — the N which used to be engraved together with the imperial crown and eagle upon the plate and regalia of Napoleon Bonaparte. There was another victim of democracy: the man who, elevated by its revolutionary wave, tried to stifle and subdue the anarchical flood, was swallowed up as ignominiously as its other implacable opponent, the plucky parson's son of the vicarage of Röcken.
        The mighty sword in the beginning and the mighty pen at the end of the last century were alike impotent against — Fate. No doubt, I saw in that moment, as though lit up by a flashlight, the fate of Europe clearly before my eyes. A

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fate — an iron fate. A fate unavoidable for a continent that will have no more guides, no more great men. A fate unavoidable for an age that spills its best blood with the carelessness of ignorance. A fate unavoidable for a people that is driven by its very religion to disobedience and anarchy. And I thought of my own race, which has seen so many fates, so many ages, so many empires decline — and there was I, the eternal Jew, witnessing another catastrophe. And I shuddered, and when my hostess entered I had not yet recovered my breath.
        Gruesome, isn't it? But what if it should not come true? "There are no more prophets to-day," says the Talmud scornfully. Well, unlike my ancestor Jonah, who became melancholic when his announcement of the downfall of Nineveh was not fulfilled, I beg to say that I on the contrary shall be extremely delighted to have proved a false prophet. But I shall keep my umbrella all the same.

Oscar Levy.
54 Russell Square,
        London, W.C.

- p. xv -


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Abbreviations Used in Referring to Nietzsche's Works

D. D.   =   Dawn of Day.
Z.   =   Thus Spake Zarathustra.
G. E.   =   Beyond Good and Evil.
G. M.   =   The Genealogy of Morals.
Aph.   =   Aphorism.



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